May 22, 2018

Licensing On Your Own vs. Going Through An Agency

Licensing On Your Own vs. Going Through An Agency
Angelina Walker
By: Angelina Walker Director of Nursing Content and Social Media

Taking on a travel nursing assignment often means you need to obtain another nursing state license. At this point, you can decide if you want to go ahead and apply for a license on your own, or if you want your agency to obtain one for you. Let’s go over some aspects that may influence your decision.

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Increased Job Availability

Many travel nurses apply for licenses on their own. One reason is when they are ready to search for their next assignment, they know they will more likely be offered a position if they already have the state license ready. This can mean more job options, a quick transition in completing their current assignment and starting their next one. Many sites want someone that can start as soon as possible, so you are more appealing if you already have the license.

Proactive Licensing

Most agencies will proactively license you. Meaning, before you have accepted a job in a given state, they will work with you to obtain that license while you are on your current assignment. Some agencies are more likely to offer to do this than others but don’t be afraid to ask. However, some agencies won’t license you until you have accepted an assignment in that state.


By obtaining a license on your own, you aren’t tied down to working with only one agency. If an agency acquired the license for you, then you will have to sign a contract with them saying you will only use that specific license while working with them. By applying for a license on your own, you have more options as to which agency you would like to work with. When searching for an assignment, be honest with your recruiter about your expectations. Make sure your contract specifically states that you will be reimbursed for that nursing license.

Cost Effective

Applying for multiple state licenses can be expensive. Between application fees, background fees, requesting NURSYS verification, and schools transcripts – these costs tend to add up. If you aren’t interested or able to afford upfront costs of a few hundred dollars, then applying with an agency will be ideal. The agency will cover the entire expenses of applying for a new state license. Keep in mind that if you decide to get a license on your own, the agency will reimburse you for all related costs.

Time Consuming

In addition, the process of applying for a new state nursing license can be time-consuming. Some tasks include: completing an endorsement application, fingerprints, requesting school transcripts, and verifying initial licensure. By having an agency apply for the license on your behalf, there is a team in place that can assist with the process. You will have to sign a release form that allows a representative of the agency to complete an application on your behalf. Then the team will utilize your credentialing information to complete the licensing application.

Quick Response Time

California is infamously known to take about 6 months or longer to obtain a nursing license. A bonus of having an agency acquire the license for you is that they can help speed up the process of getting the license ready. Their team will call the board of nursing on almost a daily basis to inquire about the status of your license. Sometimes this can make the board of nursing process your application faster; to avoid having to give daily updates. Also, California only accepts live scan fingerprinting from their state, but this can speed up the application review compared to submitting paper fingerprints. Thus, some agencies will fly you out to California (expenses covered) just to complete the live scan fingerprinting, which will result in a quicker licensing turnover.

There are pros and cons for both applying for a nursing state license on your own and having an agency obtain one for you. If you are certain which state you would like to work next and would like to keep your job options open by not committing to one agency, then it may be best to apply for a license on your own.

On the other hand, if you are easily overwhelmed by requirements and paperwork or do not want to spend your money upfront, having an agency apply for a license for you may be a better choice.

Next Up: 10 Tips to Make Over $100K as a Travel Nurse

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